Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Pro-Murder Position on Abortion

Most discussion in the abortion debate presupposes that if the pro-life person can establish the claim that abortion is murder, the debate is over and the pro-life position has won. Camille Paglia, somewhat to the consternation of her fellow pro-choicers, actually concedes what pro-lifers consider to be their central argument. The standard pro-choice position denies the claim that abortion is murder, Paglia's view embraces it, but defends the absence of laws against abortion nevertheless.

Let's take a look at her statements:

Let’s take the issue of abortion rights, of which I am a firm supporter. As an atheist and libertarian, I believe that government must stay completely out of the sphere of personal choice. Every individual has an absolute right to control his or her body. (Hence I favor the legalization of drugs, though I do not take them.) ....


Hence I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder, the extermination of the powerless by the powerful. Liberals for the most part have shrunk from facing the ethical consequences of their embrace of abortion, which results in the annihilation of concrete individuals and not just clumps of insensate tissue. The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman’s body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman’s entrance into society and citizenship.


It looks as if a logically consistent position can be maintained here, the freedom to do as one chooses with one's own body trumps the genuine right of the fetus to life.  For a lot of people, her position is counterintuitive. Is her position irrational? Well, Hume said "It would not be irrational to prefer the death of a thousand Orientals to the pricking of the little finger." So, how, exactly, does the argument proceed from here? 


Actually this reminds me of an old friend of mine by the name of Bill Patterson, (whom Bob Prokop also knew),  now an archivist for the Heinlein Library, who staunchly opposed abortion on moral grounds. But since he was an anarchist, he opposed legislation against abortion, since he opposed, well, legislation, period. 

66 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

Yes Vic,

This is the question of a woman's right to do with her body, and her future, as she sees fit, versus the right of a zygote to take up residence there, suck her blood or other nutrients for months, grow, stress her organs, and pop out with pain, and need for care up to its 18th birthday.

Comparing such contrasting right I suspect that having a child requires a commitment far beyond that of having sex one night, or trusting a condom manufacturer's guarantees. So I'd say, keep abortion legal. And keep adoption legal too.

Crude said...

This is the question of a woman's right to do with her body, and her future, as she sees fit,

No, it's the right of a woman to do with another's body, and another's future, as she sees fit - regardless of whatever role she played in the creation and conception of that other body.

"Zygote" and like terms ("clump of cells", etc) is the 'mud-people' and 'useless eaters' of the modern world. Labels intended to dehumanize the human. Naturally, favorite terms of self-described humanists.

As for what young humans do, note that they keep right on doing it "up to its 18th birthday" often times. So, let's start considering (as Peter Singer does) some infanticide options as well.

But hey, as Babinski would not doubt agree, sometimes you need to smash the head of an infant in and suck its brains out with a vacuum. It's a very important God-given - er, nature-given... ... something-given right.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Life is a continuum. I accuse pro-lifers of focusing on the moment of "conception" arbitrarily, since the process is continual, unidirectional and each stage of the process seeks the same end. Therefore to deliberately break the continuum anywhere along the way is equivalent to deliberately killing a full compliment of living human genes and deliberately preventing a child from being born.

From the moment of ejaculation inside a woman's vagina, if you use a condom you are breaking the continuum just as surely as if you were aborting a baby during the 9th month, but it is felt that prematurely ending the lives of a bunch of sperm and one egg is not traumatic since the deaths are of microscopic cells--cells whose relative life spans are far shorter than that of a baby. But babies die too. So the length of life is relative as also is the fact that the genes are all there as well--moving in the direction toward becoming a zygote and finally a baby. Break the continuum, end the stream of a human live or lives in the case of twins.

Even after one sperm enters the egg the genes continue to move in time and space. The female and male genes continue moving to touch one another and arrange themselves, just as they had been doing before, but this time the movement is taking place inside the egg not outside it. And this further movement in time and space often takes longer than the time it took for the sperm to reach the eggs in the first place. It takes a day. (The sperm reach the egg quickly via contractions of the fallopian tubes that move all the sperm together toward the egg, they don't have to swim all the way there!)

Of course one can never predict what will happen after ejaculation, but using a condom is a deliberate attempt to break the continuum of life. You also can't predict what will happen for the first month after fertilization.

“Products of conception [often] die at either the zygote, morula, or blastocyst stage. They never reach the implant stage but are discharged in the menstrual flow of the next period. It is estimated that [this] occurs in more than 50 percent of conceptions. In such occurrences, a woman may never even know that she has been pregnant.” [Pro-life Catholic, Dr. John Collins Harvey, “Distinctly Human,” Commonweal, Feb. 8, 2002]

So, for most of history women didn't even know if they'd lost a zygote or very early embryo during the first month of pregnancy, and the percentage of natural losses remain staggering, perhaps more than 50% of the time. (Jesus loves the little zygotes?)

Edward T. Babinski said...

Even once the zygote is formed it could "twin" and then one twin could die and be absorbed by the other or by the womb, which we now know happens more often than formerly thought--since we can spy what's going on in there. It's called "vanishing twin" syndrome. (It is currently estimated that twinning occurs in about 1 out of every 8 pregnancies, but only 1 in 70 of those twins exit the womb together.)

The continuum of life is filled with such hurdles. Be happy you're here, but let's also keep abortion legal. A woman's body and future should be her own to dictate. Neither does it look like the world is crying out for more babies, not right now, since we're about to reach the seven billion population mark.

If you're an Evangelical, Catholic, Mormon, or whatever, and love children, adopt, and continue to adopt and even offer to pay the doctor visit bills and vitamins and hospital bills for the woman who is pregnant if you are that serious about adoption. Show people you love babies. I know some families that have done that. Some of them even adopt only children with physical or mental handicaps. More power to them if they can do that. Not everyone has the desire and annual income and administrative skills and ability to handle stress that might enable them to to do that.

Love of God does not automatically change every women into a den mother who wants a den filled with children. If that was so then the world population would be in the tens of billions by now. At least China would be in deep sh*t right now. India has no population policy and its population will soon exceed China's. God save India. They even have water shortages there now, building more dams on the upper Ganges, but Pakistan also relies on the same water supply which is smaller by the time it runs through those Indian dams that reroute water down other Indian rivers. So Pakistan isn't too pleased about that, not at all.

Edward T. Babinski said...

He Crude, You didn't get the point that rights can conflict.


So I guess you won't get the point that life is a continuum either.


Here's some jokes you also won't get:

BREAKING NEWS: Man claiming to be a 2588 week old embryo is saved from death penalty

In other news, one embryo absorbs its twin in the womb and is sentenced to an abortion.

Crude said...

So I guess you won't get the point that life is a continuum either.

If by "point" you mean "mere assertion by you", no, I got that loud and clear.

Still, I'm on your side Ed. You've convinced me, and I agree with your essential claim: Sometimes you just have to take a hammer to the skull of a baby. These things are inferior to us, not inherently deserving of protection, much less life, if we find it inconvenient or undesirable. They exist at our whim and discretion.

So if a woman - or any relevant party, really - wants to be rid of her one year old, that's really that. She can press her palm up against the side of the infant's head while steadying it against a hard surface, and crush its paltry excuse for a neuronal connection then and there. *crrrrrKKKK* *splat* Problem solved.

And this, only if she feels like putting up with the fuss and hassle of cleaning up. If she's in a hurry, tossing the baby into a garbage can or dumpster is equally acceptable - exposure and time will take care of the problem itself. (An example of unacceptable disposal would be throwing the child into the woods or into a natural body of water - that's littering, and we have no right to harm the environment unduly.)

See, Ed? You and me, we're on the same page here. I endorse all of the things that you endorse. There's no shame in it - why pretend otherwise? The idea that an infant is somehow deserving of life if it's deemed undesirable to its primary caregivers is a fiction, a throwback to a superstitious time, something to be stomped under the heel of a boot. Just like unwanted infants themselves.

Can I get an "Amen", Ed? This is enlightened humanism talking, and I'm preaching to the choir!

Crude said...

Yet more important humanist defenses of abortion right here.

Heuristics said...

Having an ethical position that is coherent is not all that impressive, having an ethical position that is coherent and has presuppositions/assumptions/axioms etc are believable or are compatible with the rest of the world view frameworks that you have as a human; That is impressive.

The first question appears to me in these cases to always be: Is there an essential difference between a human and a rock that brings about ethics towards one but not the other?

Anthony Fleming said...

Ed, you wrote, "Of course one can never predict what will happen after ejaculation, but using a condom is a deliberate attempt to break the continuum of life. You also can't predict what will happen for the first month after fertilization."

I disagree with the condom part of the statement. At conception the unborn have a human disposition. If all things are left to itself it will likely result in a fully developed human being.

Withholding necessary ingredients or entities (birth control) does not destroy that which has a human disposition.

Lets say I have a bunch of pumpkin seeds and I choose not to plant them. By not planting them I did not kill or destroy a pumpkin. If I plant the pumpkin and it sprouts and then I uproot it I have now destroy the immediate active potential or disposition of an actual pumpkin plant.

Sperm if alone and left to itself will not develop into a human being. There is no immediate active potential or complete human disposition. The same can be said for the egg. If they come together however such a disposition does exist.

This disposition should protect all of us and should protect the unborn as well. Otherwise one could potentially make the case to kill less developed people, unconscious individuals, etc etc.

One Brow said...

Crude said...
No, it's the right of a woman to do with another's body, and another's future, as she sees fit - regardless of whatever role she played in the creation and conception of that other body.

I agree it's reasonable to say the mother has no right to kill the zygote. I have no objection to a lwas saying the zygote must be removed alive, and then it can continue its life without impacting the woman who was carrying it.

That is, if you really meant that it was about the zygote's future.

Your compaqrison of scientifically accurate terms to racial slurs is quite amusing.

... sometimes you need to smash the head of an infant in and suck its brains out with a vacuum.

That's illegal in every state (although it does occasionally come recommended in the Bible).

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
I disagree with the condom part of the statement.

However, the argument you gave does not form a good analogy. If you plant a pumpkin seed, but then use barriers to prevent it from getting wet, you are still interfering with the potential of the seed, even though it will never sprout.

The equivalent of not planting the pumpkin seed would be not having vaginal intercourse.

Anthony Fleming said...

I should really proof-read before I post.

One Brow,

I used the term "disposition" for my analogy or "immediate active potential." The seed has a resting potential. The seed has immediate active potential or disposition when combined with other necessary ingredients. In the case of a pumpkin seed, soil is another necessary ingredient. When the necessary ingredients are combined and it "sprouts" the result is not a fully developed pumpkin plant. While it is not a fully developed pumpkin plant, it has the complete disposition of a pumpkin plant. The potential is "immediate" and "active" towards a fully developed pumpkin plant.

True my analogy is not perfect. It was only there to help make my point on the difference between the "resting" potential of the necessary entities or ingredients and the immediate active potential or disposition that exists once those ingredients or entities are combined.

Anthony Fleming said...

By the way,

I am curious how naturalists like Ed can necessarily say that one set of cells (a woman) is more valuable than other set of cells that form as a result of a natural process.

Why should a crying baby be protected with such a view? If you kill a crying baby, isn't it just a destruction of a set of cells that hasn't yet formed the proper thinking process? Even so, why is the thinking process valuable? Isn't that just another set of cells like any other set of cells?

toddes said...

Someone help me with this statement of Paglia's:

"The state in my view has no authority whatever to intervene in the biological processes of any woman’s body, which nature has implanted there before birth and hence before that woman’s entrance into society and citizenship."

As an atheist, how can Paglia assert any kind of existence prior to birth?

For that matter, if she has no problem with murder, that is, "the extermination of the powerless by the powerful", as long as the state does not "intervene with the biological processes of any woman's body" (hopefully any man's body as well) then does she support the state imprisoning or fining individual's who perform or those who choose to have abortions as it does with those who chose to murder?

Anonymous said...

Paglia's language is perhaps careless, but I don't think she's asserting any existence before birth. The biological processes that produce fetal development have a long evolutionary history prior to the birth of any particular individual. Those processes are a priori to any assertions of law by the state. (That's what I take her meaning to be, at any rate.)

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
I am curious how naturalists like Ed can necessarily say that one set of cells (a woman) is more valuable than other set of cells that form as a result of a natural process.

I am curious *where* this is said. It was not in these comments. If you mean this is either a necessary precursor or a conclusion of beingt pro-choice, I have seen no argument that justifies that.

One Brow said...

toddes said...
As an atheist, how can Paglia assert any kind of existence prior to birth?

Reality, presumably. Atheists don't think zygotes and fetuses are imaginary.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

Ed Wrote, "This is the question of a woman's right to do with her body, and her future, as she sees fit, versus the right of a zygote to take up residence there, suck her blood or other nutrients for months, grow, stress her organs, and pop out with pain, and need for care up to its 18th birthday. "

Such a statement assumes the greater value of the woman and her choice (which is at some level just cells, atoms, particles etc) over another set of cells, atoms, particles etc.)

I should have worded my comment more specifically.

JSA said...

As my mother always used to tell me, "I brought you into this world, and I can take you out!".

toddes said...

One Brow,

I apologize for not making myself clear. I wasn't thinking it terms of physical existence.

Paglia wrote/spoke about nature implanting rights prior to birth but earlier referred to "clumps of insensate tissue". She can't have it both ways.

If the fetus is just a clump of tissue then how can it have rights?

If the fetus has rights before birth then does Paglia support the state legislating punishments for individuals who perform or who elect to have abortions in the same manner that it has in regards to murder of which Paglis admits abortion is a form? Somehow I imagine she would be outraged by the suggestion but I don't know this for sure.

rad said...

"Is her position irrational?"

Yes, because it is self-contradictory.

"Every individual has an absolute right to control his or her body.
[...]
I have always frankly admitted that abortion is murder"

i.e. it violates the "absolute right" of the unborn "to control his or her body."

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
Such a statement assumes the greater value of the woman and her choice (which is at some level just cells, atoms, particles etc) over another set of cells, atoms, particles etc.)

I disagree. It is a statement of rights, not values. Specifically, that a woman has a greater right to determine what happens to her body than any other being. Unless you are making an argument that rights are based on how valuable someone is (and I don't believe that you are), you are drawing a connection improperly.

One Brow said...

toddes said...
Paglia wrote/spoke about nature implanting rights prior to birth but earlier referred to "clumps of insensate tissue". She can't have it both ways.

Perhaps you have some other quote of Paglia in mind besides the one you presented. Because, the one you presented said "processes" were implanted before birth, not rights. Clumps of tissue may or may not have rights, bhut they cedrtainly have processes.

If the fetus is just a clump of tissue then how can it have rights?

If the fetus has rights before birth then does Paglia support the state legislating punishments for individuals who perform or who elect to have abortions in the same manner that it has in regards to murder of which Paglis admits abortion is a form? Somehow I imagine she would be outraged by the suggestion but I don't know this for sure.

October 19, 2011 12:13 PM

One Brow said...

rad said...
i.e. it violates the "absolute right" of the unborn "to control his or her body."

If thd unborn is removed alive, that ight is not violated.

AnonFundy said...

No talk of violinists in the original post or entire comment thread. Thank goodness.

AnonFundy said...

Do not punish the rapist by murdering his child.

'nuf said.

AnonFundy said...

Anthony asks the question nobody can answer. Materialists are committed to the view that all that exists is energy in motion in the spacetime manifold. There is no room for values in that world. Zoom in enough on anything, and it looks the same. Why value this spacetime worm more than that spacetime worm?

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

You wrote, "I disagree. It is a statement of rights, not values. Specifically, that a woman has a greater right to determine what happens to her body than any other being..."

To give a right to one over another (or even another thing) assumes the greater value. I would imagine that no one here wants to advocate for the equal value of an ant and a human person. The human person has greater value and therefore has certain rights within humanity which act (among many things) to protect humanity from humanity.

So yes, the equal rights of every human being assumes human beings are valuable. If human beings have no actual value then why should they be protected?

Which brings us back to this issue. Either a woman's choice to terminate a living being should be protected or the living being should be protected. Philosophically, I advocate that a living human being should be protected above other's choice to destroy it. Wouldn't you agree?

I know you share a third position; taking the unborn out of the womb to "fend for themselves."

Would you also advocate for the protections and care for that individual? Otherwise it seems your position is no different than letting a baby "fend for itself." It would starve and die and the caretakers would be arrested and charged.

Anthony Fleming said...

By the way, my point to Ed still stands.

Giving more value or rights to the woman and her choice over of the unborn is just choosing one set of human cells with human DNA over another set of human cells with human DNA.

With that kind of viewpoint why would it be wrong for me to kill any fully developed human person?

What about someone in a comatose state? Shouldn't it be the right of the doctors, caretakers, family, tax-payers, etc to choose not to keep supporting them through capital and medical equipment?

I advocate that unless they are brain dead (medical standard for being deceased) a comatose person may come out of it and therefore to "pull the plug" is choosing to end their life.

Should we as a society be able to make a choice that will cause the death of a comatose person? Or should they be protected with all that we have available to us because they are a person who possess life, human DNA, a human disposition.

I fail to see that as a society we should support anyone (not just women) to make a choice to end the life of an innocent human being. Like the comatose person the unborn have life, human DNA, and human disposition. They should also be protected.

Ed said, "versus the right of a zygote to take up residence there, suck her blood or other nutrients for months, grow, stress her organs, and pop out with pain, and need for care up to its 18th birthday. "

Someone gave Ed the right to "take up residence." Now he comes along years later talking about the "right" to exterminate or destroy that life because its uncomfortable.

Would it be ok for a mother to exterminate her baby because it feeds off of her, puts stress on her body from carrying it around, and takes up her time?

One Brow said...

AnonFundy said...
Anthony asks the question nobody can answer. ... Why value this spacetime worm more than that spacetime worm?

My answer was: abortion does not say one spacetime worm is more valuable than another spacetime worm, so the the quesiton is moot.

Anthony Fleming said...
To give a right to one over another (or even another thing) assumes the greater value.

Not at all. Not that I am trying to draw a direct analogy, but giving a right to one person to not be a slave is not valuing that person more highly that the former slaveowner, but recognizing the equality of the two. Similarly, recognizing the right of a woman to remove a fetus is recognizing the equality of her value, not superiority.

So yes, the equal rights of every human being assumes human beings are valuable.

I do not dispute the equal value of the woman and the zygote.

Which brings us back to this issue. Either a woman's choice to terminate a living being should be protected or the living being should be protected.

Why not protect both? Protect the woman by allowing her to remove the zygote/embryo/fetus on demand. Protect the zygote/embryo/fetus by insisting that the extraction be performed without killing it.

Philosophically, I advocate that a living human being should be protected above other's choice to destroy it. Wouldn't you agree?

Depends on the situation, and in particular on what the being who might be destroyed is actually doing. Everyone I know of supports shooting a person in the act of rape or murder.

Would you also advocate for the protections and care for that individual?

Of course. Even children who have been born normally can be made wards of the state in this country. Parents seldom choose this option, but it exists.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming,

There is a difference between draining a bank account and draining a body. Comatose people do not drain other people's bodies.

Someone gave Ed the right to "take up residence." Now he comes along years later talking about the "right" to exterminate or destroy that life because its uncomfortable.

Neither Ed, nor I, nor my children were given a right, we were given permission. I am exceedingly grateful to my mother and to my wife for their respective permissions. I'm glad to know they made choices, instead of being coerced.

Would it be ok for a mother to exterminate her baby because it feeds off of her, puts stress on her body from carrying it around, and takes up her time?

Babies can be made wards of the state, or be adopted.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

I will answer your other objections later. For now just a couple of things.

Your third options such as delivery and care of the unborn or adoption of the baby offer nothing in the case of whether abortion is right or wrong.

Its like you want to have it both ways by saying, "here is a third option but woman should also have the "right" (which could be used interchangeable with the word permission) to destroy a living human being for whatever reason."

If you want to advocate that abortion is wrong and should illegal BUT woman should have the right to deliver early with care given by the state then we will be starting a different conversation.

If however you want to defend abortion (terminating a human life) then I have certain philosophical questions which you are only answering by giving "third options."

For example, if it is ok for a mother to terminate a living human being inside her because it is "causing discomfort" then why is it not ok for a mother to terminate a living being outside of her (a baby) because it is causing discomfort? Babies can drain people's bodies. :)

Answering with "adoption is an option" does not validate the philosophical stance. Its like a false trilemma.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

One more thing. What I am basically looking for is a definition of a human person that refutes my provided definitions by excluding the unborn.

What makes those out of the womb valuable enough to have protections for their human life but not the unborn?

toddes said...

One Brow,

To assert that the state does not have the authority to intervene in the biological process of one's body is to affirm a right. While not stated outright in Paglia's statement the idea is present.

toddes said...

One Brow,

To assert that the state does not have the authority to intervene in the biological process of one's body is to affirm a right. While not stated outright in Paglia's statement the idea is present.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
Its like you want to have it both ways by saying, "here is a third option but woman should also have the "right" (which could be used interchangeable with the word permission) to destroy a living human being for whatever reason."

Not at all. The only right I think they should have is to remove another person from being inside their body, at any time they so choose.

If you want to advocate that abortion is wrong and should illegal BUT woman should have the right to deliver early with care given by the state then we will be starting a different conversation.

When medical science can care for a month-old fetus outside the womb, I'm sure it will be a different discussion. The reality is that exercising that rigtht currently will result in the deaths of fetuses, so I doubt you really consider them to be separate discussions.

If however you want to defend abortion (terminating a human life) then I have certain philosophical questions which you are only answering by giving "third options."

OK.

For example, if it is ok for a mother to terminate a living human being inside her because it is "causing discomfort" then why is it not ok for a mother to terminate a living being outside of her (a baby) because it is causing discomfort?

I don't think abortion is OK, either. That's a difrferent discussion from whether it should be legal.

One more thing. What I am basically looking for is a definition of a human person that refutes my provided definitions by excluding the unborn.

Personhood of the fetus is not really relevant to the legality of abortion, but I'll go along with this discussion.

Genuine personhood (as opposed to merely being part of the human species) requires the current or past possession of sentience, which at a minimum requires sufficient brain development to support sentience.

However, there is no exterior marker for personhood. So legally, we go with substitutes that allow us clear, bright lines.

What makes those out of the womb valuable enough to have protections for their human life but not the unborn?

No such difference traits exist. The difference is in the use of the woman without her consent. It is upon you to show the relevance of the non-existence of difference traits outweighs the right of the woman to use her body as she sees fit.

One Brow said...

toddes said...
To assert that the state does not have the authority to intervene in the biological process of one's body is to affirm a right. While not stated outright in Paglia's statement the idea is present.

However, the affirming of a right is different from affirming that the right existed pre-birth.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

The whole "use of woman's body without consent" doesn't seem to work in any case of abortion that did not result of incest or rape. She used her body in a way that could bring about a human life.

You wrote, "When medical science can care for a month-old fetus outside the womb, I'm sure it will be a different discussion."

I agree. So this option does not even need to be discussed which is why I am curious you are bringing it up. Unless you are OK with taking it out of the womb without current care. In which case I would ask to see the difference between that and letting a baby starve to death.

You wrote, "Personhood of the fetus is not really relevant to the legality of abortion, but I'll go along with this discussion."

I completely disagree. Person hood is completely relevant to all of our protections and rights. It is the difference between our laws applying only to ourselves vs. including other parts of the animal kingdom. If the life inside the woman (that resulted from her choice) is a person then destroying that person is murder. It doesn't matter what type of argument you try to hide it behind. Claim "woman's rights" all you want but the fact will still stand that a human person has been destroyed for the sake of someone's "choice" because of that person's choice (in most instances).

You wrote, "Genuine personhood (as opposed to merely being part of the human species) requires the current or past possession of sentience, which at a minimum requires sufficient brain development to support sentience. "

Would you be so kind to point out to me which module and mechanisms within the brain are the source of consciousness?

The unborn have detectable brain waves after just 40 days. Are you sure there is no consciousness?

Secondly, using "past sentience" has holes in it. I think it would be ok for us to "pull the plug" on a brain dead person. They have no sentient future. It would not be ok to pull the plug on a comatose person; they have a potential sentient future.

Saying that they should have "sentience" or "past sentience" not only neglects the brain dead person but also assumes the value and validity of past sentience. I see no reason why this has to be the case.

Even so, what value is past sentience to a sleeping infant? True they have past sentience but none of that past sentience will be realized or remembered later on. The sleeping infant cannot "suffer its own loss." If sentience in and of itself if valued then what protects the sleeping infant?

To me the arguments from sentience is like saying, "we are going to take something that we do not know very much about and use that to label the human person."

This is why I used the terms of life, human disposition, and DNA to help make the definition. Such terms can provide protection for the sleeping infant, the comatose person, and justify pulling the plug on the brain dead person.


You wrote, "No such difference traits exist. The difference is in the use of the woman without her consent. It is upon you to show the relevance of the non-existence of difference traits outweighs the right of the woman to use her body as she sees fit."

I see that each person should be valued and that a person should not be extinguished because the "natural order of things" is uncomfortable to someone else.

Also, it seems a little inconsistent to say it should be legal (even though it is wrong) to destroy a living human being because it could not control coming into existence (through the actions of the female host) because the female host did not give consent. Then, at the same time to define a human person only by sentience.

It seems to go both ways. Kill the being because it does not have sentience (though I think such an argument is a tall order). At the same time, kill the being because it dwells where it cannot control without consent.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

I have enjoyed this discussion and I thank you for taking your time with me.

If you respond to my previous comment I will respond once more and let you have the last word. I don't like debates that run on for days and days and I have my own work to get done :)

Bless you,

Anthony

Anthony Fleming said...

One last thing to add on to my response...

In answer to my question on what makes those out of the womb valuable enough to have protections for their human life but not the unborn?

You wrote, "No such difference traits exist. The difference is in the use of the woman without her consent. It is upon you to show the relevance of the non-existence of difference traits outweighs the right of the woman to use her body as she sees fit."

The baby could come into the world with the mothers consent but then be taken out because the mother has not consented to allow it to take up more of her time, sleep, stress, etc.

As you admitted, the arguments for being able to kill it within the womb vs. killing it outside have no fundamental difference. The philosophical reason you are giving for the mother to be able exterminate her child can be applied to a sleeping infant. I am sure you wouldn't advocate for this though. Isn't that a double standard?

Anthony Fleming said...

One last thing...

I wrote, "Giving more value or rights to the woman and her choice over of the unborn is just choosing one set of human cells with human DNA over another set of human cells with human DNA. With that kind of viewpoint why would it be wrong for me to kill any fully developed human person?"

I still think this applies. The human life-form that came into existence depends on the mother for survival, as it will when it is born. Consent and reasons for consent is extremely subjective.

If it is ok for someone to destroy living being with human disposition and DNA because it did not get "consent" (though it 'supposedly' lacks sentience) for its existence then what protects all the rest of us who are also just living cells?

Ilíon said...

Isn't it amusing to see 'atheists' asserting the reality of transcendant and inalienable rights? I mean, regardless of how "confused" they may be on just what those rights are? And, I mean, especially given the immediately prior thread?

SteveK said...

Virtue: Choosing not to harm another, even when the law says you can.

AnonFundy said...

Thanks again for nobody bringing up a violinist in this thread. Refreshing to see a long discussion about abortion when you assume the fetus is a person without having to deal with that silly violinist case and subsequent discussion in the literature. Good to see people are not tainted by the "peer-reviewed" literature on this topic.

It is about values. Do you value the inside person less than the outside person? What if it were reversed: getting pregnant meant being the inside person would you want them to have the right to terminate you? The inside-outside boundary is arbitrary is the point. Once you have taken on the role of nurturer by getting pregnant, you cannot suddenly decide to murder your charge.

As for rape/incest: if the woman can prove it in court of law, then she can have an abortion.

AnonFundy said...

For those that can't see it, final line was joke. Don't punish rapists by killing their kids. What woman would want to go through such a proof in court of law? Murder is worse than rape, it would be a mutilation of justice to have woman prove she was raped just so she can kill someone's baby. Sorry not funny joke I guess.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
If you respond to my previous comment I will respond once more and let you have the last word. I don't like debates that run on for days and days and I have my own work to get done :)

Bless you,


Thank you for noting this in advance. I'll try to make our reminaing conversaiton as productive as I can.

The whole "use of woman's body without consent" doesn't seem to work in any case of abortion that did not result of incest or rape. She used her body in a way that could bring about a human life.

You can't grant consent to a person that doesn't exist yet. At the time the woman has sex, there is no zygote/embryo/fetus. What you're saying amounts to saying she is granting consent to the man to use her body for several months.

I agree. So this option does not even need to be discussed which is why I am curious you are bringing it up.

One of the arguments is that the unborn person should be allowed to continue to develop naturally. I am pointing out tht such a position is not in opposition to early pregnancy termination.

I completely disagree. Person hood is completely relevant to all of our protections and rights.

No person has the right to access the body of another person, even for the purposes of survival. Therefore, the full personhood of an unborn does not confer to that unborn the right to access the body of the woman, even for the purposes of survival. Therefore, the personhood of the unborn is not relevant to the woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.

Claim "woman's rights" all you want but the fact will still stand that a human person has been destroyed for the sake of someone's "choice" because of that person's choice (in most instances).

Yup. People get destroyed in executions and wars, as well, by the choice of other people. You don't get to claim access to another person's body simply because you will die without it.

You wrote, "Genuine personhood (as opposed to merely being part of the human species) requires the current or past possession of sentience, which at a minimum requires sufficient brain development to support sentience. "

Would you be so kind to point out to me which module and mechanisms within the brain are the source of consciousness?

The unborn have detectable brain waves after just 40 days. Are you sure there is no consciousness?


Sentience is more than consciousness. I am sure that no unbron has sentience. Not being a neuroscientist, I don't have a prescise list, but my understanding is that we have identified the parts of the brain that create and store memories, process sensations, perform abstractions, engage in foresight and restraint, etc.

Secondly, using "past sentience" has holes in it. I think it would be ok for us to "pull the plug" on a brain dead person. They have no sentient future. It would not be ok to pull the plug on a comatose person; they have a potential sentient future.

Notice you still refer to a "brain-dead person". Sometimes it is legal, and even ethical, to kill a person.

Saying that they should have "sentience" or "past sentience" not only neglects the brain dead person but also assumes the value and validity of past sentience. I see no reason why this has to be the case.

I was offering my standard for personhood. Feel free to offer another, but I think you will have trouble finding a simple, non-circular definition that does not include entities you would not normally ascribe personhood to and also does not exclude entities that you would normall ascrbe personhood to.

If sentience in and of itself if valued then what protects the sleeping infant?

As I mentioned, the boundaries are not well-defined, but legally we need the fine, bright lines. So, any infant is decided to be a person in out culture (in some cultures, they have to reach a certain age first).

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
This is why I used the terms of life, human disposition, and DNA to help make the definition. Such terms can provide protection for the sleeping infant, the comatose person, and justify pulling the plug on the brain dead person.

HeLa cultures are alive, of human disposition (unless you are using a circular notion of disposition), and have human DNA.

You wrote, "No such difference traits exist. The difference is in the use of the woman without her consent. It is upon you to show the relevance of the non-existence of difference traits outweighs the right of the woman to use her body as she sees fit."

I see that each person should be valued and that a person should not be extinguished because the "natural order of things" is uncomfortable to someone else.


There is a difference between "making me uncomfortable" and "living off of my body".

Also, it seems a little inconsistent to say it should be legal (even though it is wrong) to destroy a living human being because it could not control coming into existence (through the actions of the female host) because the female host did not give consent. Then, at the same time to define a human person only by sentience.

Legal standards will usually not perfectly reflect a real situation. I do not pretend that what I mean by 'genuine personhood" can be a legal standard.

You wrote, "No such difference traits exist. The difference is in the use of the woman without her consent. It is upon you to show the relevance of the non-existence of difference traits outweighs the right of the woman to use her body as she sees fit."

The baby could come into the world with the mothers consent but then be taken out because the mother has not consented to allow it to take up more of her time, sleep, stress, etc.

As you admitted, the arguments for being able to kill it within the womb vs. killing it outside have no fundamental difference. The philosophical reason you are giving for the mother to be able exterminate her child can be applied to a sleeping infant. I am sure you wouldn't advocate for this though. Isn't that a double standard?


You have brought this up before, and I have responded before. Any woman (I refuse to call them mothers if they reject the role) who no longer wishes to care for an infant can relieve herself of that burden without killing it. As far as I know, every culture in the world has provisions for this. In the United States, there is both adoption and turning the baby over to the state government. Therefore, it is not necessary to kill the infant to remove it from the woman's care. You can respect the rights of the infant without impinging on the rights of the woman to control her own body.

I wrote, "Giving more value or rights to the woman and her choice over of the unborn is just choosing one set of human cells with human DNA over another set of human cells with human DNA. With that kind of viewpoint why would it be wrong for me to kill any fully developed human person?"

I still think this applies. The human life-form that came into existence depends on the mother for survival, as it will when it is born. Consent and reasons for consent is extremely subjective.


Are willing to say that any time person A depends upon some part of person B's body for survival, that person A has a right to it? Can you formulate a coherent theory of consent to individuals that do not yet exist?

If it is ok for someone to destroy living being with human disposition and DNA because it did not get "consent" (though it 'supposedly' lacks sentience) for its existence then what protects all the rest of us who are also just living cells?

If any time person A needs some part of your body to live (say lobe of your lung), what proticts you from having to give up a lobe of your lung?

toddes said...

One Brow,

However, the affirming of a right is different from affirming that the right existed pre-birth.

Paglia already affirmed this right in her admission that abortion is murder.

1. According to Paglia, abortion is murder

2. Murder is a violation of an individual's "absolute right to control his or her body"

3. Abortion occurs prior to birth

4. Therefore (according to Paglia), an individual's "absolute right to control his or her body" exists prior to birth

Her later statement that the state has no authority to intervene is an extension of this affirmation.

So it appears that Paglia's position is inconsisitent. Which, all in all, is not surprising.

One Brow said...

toddes,

That's the oddest definition of murder I have ever seen, and I'm not sure it's at all accurate. Would you be willing to support it in more detail?

rad said...

OneBrow:

"That's the oddest definition of murder I have ever seen"

Well, then you obviously dont know libertarianism, because self-ownership ("absolute right to control your body") is the only fundamental right in libertarianism from which all other rights are derived.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

I will respond later today. Just wanted to let you know I didn't forget about you.

One Brow said...

rad said...
Well, then you obviously dont know libertarianism, because self-ownership ("absolute right to control your body") is the only fundamental right in libertarianism from which all other rights are derived.

The definition is being used to support forcing a woman to allow someone else support her body, and is so broad that forcing an allegedly drunk driver to blow into a breath analyzer (or face arrest) is murder. I would hope libertarianism is more serious than that.

rad said...

@OneBrow

I dont think that toddes gave a definition of murder. He merely stated that it is a "violation of an individual's "absolute right to control his or her body""

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

You wrote, “You can't grant consent to a person that doesn't exist yet. At the time the woman has sex, there is no zygote/embryo/fetus. What you're saying amounts to saying she is granting consent to the man to use her body for several months.”

Your response does not address my argument. The activity helped bring about the existence of a new human life. I just don't believe, especially from a naturalistic viewpoint, that the woman's cells, particles, etc that give her the ability to make consent are more valuable than cells, particles, etc that will bring about a full developed life capable of consent. If consent is the thing valued then the human life inside the mother (that came into existence within the woman and partially from the woman) is just as valuable (physically) as the woman's consent.


You wrote, “No person has the right to access the body of another person, even for the purposes of survival...Therefore, the personhood of the unborn is not relevant to the woman's right to terminate her pregnancy.”

I disagree once again. In fact, the idea sounds preposterous (I have always wanted to use that word). Why does the woman get such a right to terminate something that cannot help its own existence which resulted from activity the woman engaged in? I don't see how this right to consent is validated over a human life that cannot help its own existence. This is where “the violinist” thought problem falls short. The existence and condition of the violinist was not brought about by decisions and actions of the person who would be hooked up to them for 9 months. Therefore, the case of the violinist, one is not morally obliged to save the violinist as the cost of their own body.

If however I was in some way responsible for the condition of the violinist AND I was the only person with the right qualities to help save them (by being hooked up to them for 9 months) then I would be morally obliged to help them live.

Anthony Fleming said...

You wrote, “Sentience is more than consciousness. I am sure that no unbron has sentience. Not being a neuroscientist, I don't have a prescise list, but my understanding is that we have identified the parts of the brain that create and store memories, process sensations, perform abstractions, engage in foresight and restraint, etc.”

That doesn't really answer my argument. Sentience is more than consciousness yet consciousness is still very far from being understood, let alone sentience. I cannot find scientific information to show that we have yet isolated consciousness in the brain. BDK's blog has some info on this. As I believe I found on his blog, consciousness may have multi-faceted definitions. It may be stored in multiple modules with multiple mechanisms or maybe single module with multiple mechanisms. I am far from scratching the surface of understanding all the neuroscience behind consciousness which is why I do not use such terms as sole qualifier to define a human person. In fact, it seems that our perception (at least visual and auditory) happens as an “unconscious inference.” So much for classifying a human by sentience alone. In fact, I believe some of our knowledge of perception from the object world is “inherited” or “learned” through natural selection and “stored' by genetic code. I got that from BDKs blog quoting Richard Gregory a psychologist and professor of neuro-psychology. Perception is part of our sentience.
While I know very limited on this subject, I know enough to know that no one knows enough about these things to use them as a sole qualifier for a human person.

You wrote, "Notice you still refer to a "brain-dead person". Sometimes it is legal, and even ethical, to kill a person."

While I agree that there may be morally acceptable instances to end the life of a person, your response does not address my argument. This argument is not about whether it is sometimes ok to end a life but whether it is ok to end the life of the unborn. Having arguments for acceptable ethics for ending a life does not validate a particular instance of ending a life. Personhood would not be so much about “present” or “past sentience” but future sentience. Otherwise there is no protection for the sleeping infant or the comatose person.

Anthony Fleming said...

You wrote, “As I mentioned, the boundaries are not well-defined, but legally we need the fine, bright lines. So, any infant is decided to be a person in out culture (in some cultures, they have to reach a certain age first).”

So would it be ok to kill an infant if a culture said it was? If so then would it be ok to rape an infant if a culture said it was? Telling me that “some cultures say this” does not validate doing it. I am assuming that killing a sleeping infant is wrong and always wrong. Feel free to argue that point if you wish.

If it is wrong to kill a sleeping infant (which lacks sentience) then I fail to see why it is right to kill the unborn. The two do not seem philosophically different.

Arguing that something requires present or past sentience (to be defined as a human person) does not protect the comatose person (which lacks present sentience) and would not allow pulling the plug on the brain dead person (which had past sentience). Saying that one must have both past and present sentience does not protect the sleeping infant, the sleeping person, or the comatose person.

So, the definition of human must be more about “future” or potentially future sentience. Such protects the sleeping person, the comatose person, but justifies pulling the plug on the brain dead person. This is part of the definition of human disposition which leads me to your next comment.

You wrote, “HeLa cultures are alive, of human disposition (unless you are using a circular notion of disposition), and have human DNA.”

I already explained my argument on immediate active potential or human disposition. A boulder has potential to become a sculpture but that doesn't mean that potential will most likely be realized within itself. The boulder does not have a disposition to become a sculpture. The unborn have the inerrant characteristics and the inclination to possess the fully developed characteristics of a human being. This includes future sentience (like the sleeping infant or the comatose person), life, and Human DNA. They are inherently inclined to become a fully developed human being. The potential is immediate and active as a fully developed human being.

We all have such a disposition even when we are drugged, in a sleep, or in a coma.

I used the pumpkin plant analogy earlier to help make my point. Uprooting a pumpkin plant (no matter what stage of development) will kill the pumpkin plant. The immediate, active, and realizing potential or disposition of the pumpkin will be destroyed.

HeLa cultures however, do not have such a disposition.

Anthony Fleming said...

I wrote, “The baby could come into the world with the mothers consent but then be taken out because the mother has not consented to allow it to take up more of her time, sleep, stress, etc.”

I also wrote, “As you admitted, the arguments for being able to kill it within the womb vs. killing it outside have no fundamental difference. The philosophical reason you are giving for the mother to be able exterminate her child can be applied to a sleeping infant. I am sure you wouldn't advocate for this though. Isn't that a double standard?

You wrote, “You have brought this up before, and I have responded before. Any woman (I refuse to call them mothers if they reject the role) who no longer wishes to care for an infant can relieve herself of that burden without killing it. As far as I know, every culture in the world has provisions for this. In the United States, there is both adoption and turning the baby over to the state government.”

This does not answer my argument in the slightest. My point is that the reasons (yes reasons) you are giving for being able to exterminate a life within the womb can also be used outside the womb. Its not about whether “there is another way” the point is whether the philosophical grounds you are using to claim one action as acceptable can be consistently applied to other actions that few would claim acceptable (like killing a sleeping infant). It matters not whether adoption exists unless infanticide did not exist, yet we know infanticide does exist. Therefore, I am looking for you to provide a cogent view which allows abortion and condemns infanticide.

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

You are welcome to have the last word in this discussion. Thank you for debating and arguing with me. If someone else responds to my points I may comment again.

Rest assured that I will read your response.

toddes said...

@One Brow,

As rad pointed out I used murder as an example (not the definition) of a violation of an individual's "absolute right to control his or her body". You're being purposely obtuse.

The subject of the post was whether Camille Paglia's position that "the freedom to do as one chooses with one's own body trumps the genuine right of the fetus to life" is logically consistent. I hold it is not.

From everything you've wrote on this thread I've read nothing that addresses this. (Perhaps I've missed it, if so I aplogize.) Is Paglia holding a logically consistent position? If abortion is murder, do the rights of the woman trump the rights of the fetus? If so, why?

In the case of the woman, it was through her choices that the fetus came to be. Because of this she is being "forced" to allow someone else to use her body for support for a finite time. After this time, the baby can be put up for adoption or placed in the care of foster parents until such time as adoptive parents can hopefully be found.

Against this is the option of murder through abortion. How can you not see the disparate difference between the two?

One Brow said...

toddes said...
As rad pointed out I used murder as an example (not the definition) of a violation of an individual's "absolute right to control his or her body". You're being purposely obtuse.

All of my obtuseness is completely unintentional.

The subject of the post was whether Camille Paglia's position that "the freedom to do as one chooses with one's own body trumps the genuine right of the fetus to life" is logically consistent. I hold it is not.

Perhaps you should delinate why a fetus has greater claim to determining the use of the woman's body than the woman, herself, has.

From everything you've wrote on this thread I've read nothing that addresses this. (Perhaps I've missed it, if so I aplogize.) Is Paglia holding a logically consistent position? If abortion is murder, do the rights of the woman trump the rights of the fetus? If so, why?

The encroacher loses out to the encroached upon.

In the case of the woman, it was through her choices that the fetus came to be.

It almost always comes back to controlling the behavior of women. Women who dare consent to sex must surrender their bodily autonomy.

Against this is the option of murder through abortion. How can you not see the disparate difference between the two?

I do see a difference. I also recognize the legal ramifications of saying that the encroacher is not subject to removal. I see the desire to control women. If it was really a mtter of valuing the life of the fetus over the rights of the woman, there would be no exception for rape or incest. Saying that there is such an exception, against a general loss of rights, is basically saying that a woman surrenders her fundamental rights when she chooses to have sex.

One Brow said...

Anthony Fleming said...
Thak you for the discussion as well. While I know you don't want to have more detailed deiscussion, could you indulge me with a one-word answer (if you think that will cover the response to the question)?

If however I was in some way responsible for the condition of the violinist AND I was the only person with the right qualities to help save them (by being hooked up to them for 9 months) then I would be morally obliged to help them live.

Should a person be legally obligated to do so? For example, in some way a cellist destroys the kidneys or liver of the violinist, and the cellist is a perfect match for organ donation. We'd agree that morally, the cellist should donate one of their kidneys or half their liver. However, would you support the government marching the cellist to the hospital and forcibly removing the organ from them?

In a general note, the distinction between what is correct morally (what pregnant women should do) and what is appropriate legally (what the government should require pregnant women to do) really are different questons. I've been trying to discuss legality.

Your response does not address my argument. The activity helped bring about the existence of a new human life. I just don't believe, especially from a naturalistic viewpoint, that the woman's cells, particles, etc that give her the ability to make consent are more valuable than cells, particles, etc that will bring about a full developed life capable of consent.

I agree with you. I also don't believe that the woman's cells, etc. have more value that the fetus'. For abortion to be a legal procedure, all I need is for them to be equally valuable. To forbid abortion, you need to make the case that the fetus' cells, etc. are more valuable. Legally, it's not enough to say that a life is more valuable than nine months of forced servitude. A life is also more valuable than a house. However, in any jurisdiction in the USA where I can own a gun, it is legal for me to use that gun to kill a burglar. So, if you are using relative value, you'd have to establish even more relative value to make abortion illegal.

One Brow said...

I disagree once again. In fact, the idea sounds preposterous (I have always wanted to use that word). Why does the woman get such a right to terminate something that cannot help its own existence which resulted from activity the woman engaged in?

Why does the woman have her rights diminished for engaging in a consensual activity?

... I know enough to know that no one knows enough about these things to use them as a sole qualifier for a human person.

As a legal matter, I agree completely.

Having arguments for acceptable ethics for ending a life does not validate a particular instance of ending a life.

I agree. However, once it has been established that such circumstances exist, we can compare those circumstances to the circumstances of the relationship between the woman and the unborn.

Personhood would not be so much about “present” or “past sentience” but future sentience. Otherwise there is no protection for the sleeping infant or the comatose person.

I assume you mean "not only" and "but also". I have said all along full personhood is not enough to make abortion legally proscribed.

One Brow wrote, “As I mentioned, the boundaries are not well-defined, but legally we need the fine, bright lines. So, any infant is decided to be a person in out culture (in some cultures, they have to reach a certain age first).”

So would it be ok to kill an infant if a culture said it was?


It would be legal. If you are asking me for my understaning of morality, I maintain that any unborn capable of living on its own at the time the pregnancy is aborted should be granted the opportunity to do so, while still holding that the woman is not required to wait until such a time to have the abortion.

The two do not seem philosophically different.

As I have said, I support any fetus that is viable being allowed to live.

One Brow said...

You wrote, “HeLa cultures are alive, of human disposition (unless you are using a circular notion of disposition), and have human DNA.”

I already explained my argument on immediate active potential or human disposition. A boulder has potential to become a sculpture but that doesn't mean that potential will most likely be realized within itself.


A nonviable fetus also will not realize it's potential within itself, unlike a viable fetus. You are supporting the fetus using the potential of the woman's body to fill in the gaps for what the fetus can not do.

Also, you really are using the notion of human disposition circularly, but I am taking that as meaning something like "of rational disposition" or "of sentient disposition", which you later put into that concept.

This does not answer my argument in the slightest. My point is that the reasons (yes reasons) you are giving for being able to exterminate a life within the womb can also be used outside the womb.

The reason I am giving you is "the baby requires the woman to use her body to support it". A baby outside the womb does not make such a requirment of the woman to use her body; she can adopt out or turn over the baby, and thereby avoid using her body to support the infant. Thus, the reason that applies to the unborn within the womb does not apply to babies.

Ilíon said...

One(-far-too-simple)-Thought: "Why does the woman have her rights diminished for engaging in a consensual activity?"

Why does a woman, or a man, have her, or his, rights (and liberties, including of movement) "diminished for engaging in a consensual activity"? It's all so unfair! to think that the prostitute, or the john, might be jailed for "engaging in a consensual activity". It's all so unfair! to think that the junkie, or the pusher, might be jailed for "engaging in a consensual activity". It's all so unfair! to think that the thief, or the fence, might be jailed for "engaging in a consensual activity". It's all so unfair! to think that the 'hit-man,' or the 'client' who hired her (*) to kill himself (should he survive), might be jailed for "engaging in a consensual activity".

Life is just so unfair! There a consequences, all over the place!

(*) that's just a little subversion of "gender-neutral language".

One Brow said...

Ilíon said...
Outside of the thief and fence (which meaqns some sort of robbery or burglary was involved), I don't see a valid state interest in restricting those people, either.
What's your interest in deciding under what conditions people may have sex, use recreational drugs, or decide to terminate their life?

Anthony Fleming said...

OneBrow,

I don't even mind doing some email discussion. I just think it is good for some of these debates to have some sort of an agreed end.

I will read through your comments and perhaps give short answers later.

Bless you,

- tony